Image credits: © Bentley.

Vehicle Profiles

Robinson Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

By the mid-1920s, Bentley realized the need for a new four-cylinder model. The 3 Litre model - though a Le Mans winner - was suffering due increasingly heavy bodies. With the 6.5 Liter in production, Bentley sought to combine the light chassis of the....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HB3403

Bentley Motors supplied this 4.5-Litre to The Hon. Dorothy Paget for Tim Birkin to drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1930. With the addition of Birkin-inspired superchargers never officially sanctioned by Bentley Motors, this car and a second 4.5-Litr....[continue reading]

Two-Seat Sports
Coachwork: Harrison

Chassis Num: DS3568

The new 4.5-liter Bentley arrived on the scene in late-1927 following the prototype's debut at that year's LeMans race, where it set a new lap record. It was the successor to the 3-liter using features of the original 4-cylinder engine as well as som....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Vanden Plas

This Bentley 4.5 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer was first delivered to Hubert Mason with body number 1615 by the Vanden Plas works in June 1929. It was later owned by the great Bentley collector and author, Johnnie Green. When acquired by the present owner....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: FB3317

This Open Tourer by Vanden Plas has never been converted to Le Mans replica status. It wears its body, chassis, engine and registration which it was born. It was delivered in January of 1929 from the Bentley Motors, Ltd. Cricklewood, England factory ....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Thrupp and Maberly

Chassis Num: MR3990

This particular car is one of a very small number of vintage Bentleys that have survived with their original open four-seater coachwork intact. Chassis MR3390 was delivered to Thrupp & Maberly, one of the oldest English coachbuilders who excellence h....[continue reading]

Offset Single Seater
Designer: Reid Railton

Chassis Num: HB3402

Reid Railton designed this offset single seater for its owner, Bentley Boy Tim Birkin. The engine was modified to cope with the stress of the supercharger. This Blower Bentley recorded its first victory at its first race at Brooklands. The next targe....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HR3976

This 'Birkin Blower 4' is one of the three Blower Bentleys entered by the Dorothy Paget and Tim Birkin team at LeMans in 1930. Driven by Dr. Dudley Benjafield and Giulio Ramponi the car expired after 144 laps. The supercharged LeMans are distinguishe....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HB3404/R

YU3250 is one of the most famous registration numbers in Bentley history. This car is the subject of some of the most collectable model cars in many different scales and can be found in many children's car collections - and those of their fathers! Al....[continue reading]


Chassis Num: NX3466

This 1929 Bentley 4.5-Liter LeMans Tourer carries chassis number NX3466. It was brought to the 2007 Monterey Historics where it participated in the Group 1A 'Pre-1939 Sports, Touring Cars' race in Laguna Seca.....[continue reading]

Salmon & Sons Coupe
Coachwork: Salmon & Sons

This 1929 Bentley, 2-seater, drophead coupe retains its original coachwork by Salmons & Sons of Newport-Pagnell in England who has produced coaches from the early 1800s. The present owner purchased the car from the Milligen Collection and brought it....[continue reading]

The car is powered by a water-cooled, single-overhead-cam, 4-cylinder, with 4 valves per cylinder, 4,500 cc (4.5-liter) engine, developing 110 horsepower coupled to a 4-speed manual transmission. The 3,630-pound car has a top speed of 94 miles per ho....[continue reading]


Chassis Num: SM 3903
Engine Num: SM 3907

Chassis number SM 3903 was first registered on October 21st 1929 as UW 3761, the engine number being entered in the log book as SM 3907. It was owned originally by the factory and sent straight away to the Olympia Motor Show. After the show the fac....[continue reading]

Sport Touring
Coachwork: Harrison

In late 1927, Bentley added the 4.5-Litre model to its successful 3 Litre, and the new car dominated endurance racing. Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin drove a 4.5-Litre to victory at LeMans in 1928, the first of three wins by Barnato in the 4.5-Litre....[continue reading]

Robinson Tourer by Vanden Plas
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HB3403 
Two-Seat Sports by Harrison
Chassis #: DS3568 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: FB3317 
Tourer by Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis #: MR3990 
Offset Single Seater
Chassis #: HB3402 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HR3976 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HB3404/R 
Chassis #: NX3466 
Salmon & Sons Coupe by Salmon & Sons
Chassis #: SM 3903 
Sport Touring by Harrison


The Bentley 4 1/2 liter came into existence to fill a void left by the 3-liter and the 6.5-liter variants. The 3-liter suffered from underperformance while the 6.5-liter was unsafe for the roads. The 6.5-liter was powerful, and with poor road-conditions often caused tires to fail quickly. The solution was the Bentley 4.5-liter; a vehicle that had enough power to carry the vehicle down the road at a good pace. The chassis consists of channel-steel, front and rear suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs, and 4-wheel drum brakes.
Production amounted to a total of 733 cars of all body styles. Fifty-four cars were equipped with the famous supercharged engine, 'Blower Bentleys,' built by the race driver Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin as a private venture - against W.O. Bentley's wishes.

The 4.5-Liter Supercharged Bentley, better known as the 'Blower' Bentleys, is a sporting automotive icon that earned its place in history as an engineering marvel and powerhouse. Only 50 examples, plus an additional five racing prototypes, were created. In the modern era, they are among the top rank in collector cars throughout the world.

Engineer and founder W.O. Bentley was hesitant to adapt a supercharger to his 4.5-liter engines. Rather, the development was financed by a woman, the Honorable Dorthy Paget, who provided the funds necessary to complete the project. It was for Henry R.S. 'Tim' Birkin, one of the 'Bentley Boys' who campaigned the Bentleys at many venues and various competition events bringing recognition and victories to the Bentley marque. The list includes Brooklands with its closed oval course, and the other extreme, LeMans, with his challenging road course.

Birkin had intended to race the supercharged 4.5-liter Bentley at LeMans in 1929, but lubrication problems on the early cars halted those plans. Instead, Woolf Barnato (Bentley's chairman and fellow factory team racer), Birkin, and Glen Kidston drove the Bentley Speed Six Models in 1929 to victories at LeMans.

Birkin was able to convince Barnato to enter the 'blower' Bentley in the 1930 LeMans race. In order to do so, homologation requirements had to be satisfied. The rules stated a minimum of 50 examples had to be built. Bentley officially introduced their production versions of the cars at the 1929 Olympia Motor Show, with the fist cars on sale in April of 1930.

With homologation requirements satisfied, Bentley entered two blowers and three Speed Six models. Birkin's LeMans blower was co-drive by Jean Chassagne. The Blower Bentley showed great promise early in the race, and by the fourth lap had passed a highly-competitive supercharged Mercedes at 126 mph. In the process it shredded a tire and was forced to stop. At the time, they had been averaging 89.66 mph per lap, which was a new lap record for the course.

The other Bentley's were given the job of chasing down the Mercedes. Their job became much easier when the Mercedes was forced to retire when their battery died. The Blower Bentley's would endure similar fate, as they were forced to retire in the 20th hour. The Speed Six models went on to secure a 1-2 Bentley victory.

1930 was the last year the Bentley factory team would compete at LeMans, as the company had fallen on very difficult economical times. Dorothy Paget eventually withdrew her support for the Birkin blowers as the cost to compete continued to escalate. This brought an end to the short-lived saga of the Bentley blower era.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008

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3 Litre
3½ Litre
4½ Litre LeMans RC Series
6½ Litre
8 Litre
Mark V
Mark VI
R Type and Continental
S1 and Continental
S2 and Continental
S3 and Continental
Speed 8
Speed Six
Turbo R / Turbo RT

Image Left 1928 4.5 Litre1930 4.5-liter Image Right
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